With Brand still working his way back from a dislocated shoulder, both his current and former teams will look to avoid a fifth straight loss when they face off Wednesday at Staples Center.
In seven seasons with the Clippers, Brand averaged 20.3 points and 10.3 rebounds, but he opted out of his contract last summer and signed with Philadelphia - even after Los Angeles had already acquired Baron Davis to complement Brand.
After he missed nearly all of last season due to a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, Brand has again been slowed by injuries. He missed two games with a strained hamstring earlier this month, and has missed the last five with a dislocated shoulder that is expected to keep him out until at least mid-January.
Even with the team’s prized acquisition in the lineup, Philadelphia’s slow start cost coach Maurice Cheeks his job. Now, the Sixers (12-18) have lost their last four games without Brand, who is averaging a career-low 15.9 points.
The skid has included losses in the first three games of a six-game road trip. The Sixers fell to 5-10 on the road with a 112-95 loss at Utah on Monday, allowing at least 105 points for the third straight game as the Jazz shot 51.2 percent from the field.
“They’re a great team,” Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said of the Jazz, “but either we got tired or we lost focus and our defense let us down in the second half.”
They should be able to tighten their defense against the Clippers, whose woeful offense has averaged 81.5 points and shot 35.3 percent from the field during their four-game slide. Davis, dealing with a sore back, is averaging 11.8 points and shooting 24.1 percent over that span.
Only the Kings trail Los Angeles (8-22) in the Pacific Division, and the Clippers lost 92-90 at Sacramento on Tuesday. Rookie Eric Gordon had 24 points and Marcus Camby added 15 and 24 rebounds for Los Angeles, but the team failed to score in the final three minutes.
“We were the ones that kind of gave it away,” said Los Angeles’ Paul Davis, who had a career-high 18 points. “Some things hurt us. We could have taken better shots when we had the chances. But we just have to move on.”
In addition to Brand’s departure before the season, the Clippers have played their last two games without new big man Zach Randolph.
Averaging 23.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in 14 games since Los Angeles acquired him in a trade from the New York Knicks, Randolph has been battling a bruised left knee and probably won’t play Wednesday. Center Chris Kaman, meanwhile, hasn’t played in more than a month because of a foot problem.
The Clippers have been even worse at home this season, going 3-12 and averaging 89.9 points. They’ve failed to reach 80 points in each of their last two home games.
The Sixers rolled to a 106-80 win against the Clippers at Staples Center last March 3, sweeping the season series. They can do the same Wednesday after beating Los Angeles 89-88 at home on Nov. 21.